Alex is my boyfriend and he’s an outstanding modeler. Today I want to show you this helicopter he made.
Do you want to see how he made it? I’ll just say it took him a year and two months to finish it.
This happens to be a Bell AH-1W Super Cobra, and not a regular one! It’s the W version that has some devices and improvements to better work in the dark. The kit is produced by a Korean company called Academy and the scale is 1/35 (= pretty small).
Plastic models are something I haven’t tried yet. I’ve never been attracted to them. I guess it’s a lot of work for something that has no function but to decorate. But I DO appreciate all the work they involve, and that’s why I don’t like them. Alex says he doesn’t drive to reach places; he drives to enjoy the ride. So, for him, this wasn’t a year of work, but a year of challenges and fun.
I still think it’s too much work.
It happens that the pieces come like this, in these plastic shapes called “sprues”:
You have to take them off and sand the edges before you can start doing anything else. Then, if your brain can figure out where every piece goes, you can start gluing them together. Sure, there are some instruction sheets… but they look as if someone had taken all the instruction sheets of all the furniture from IKEA and mixed them randomly and then blindfolded someone in the audience and ask him/her to pick just 4 of the sheets and then he/she would hand them to you saying: “Here, now you build your Billy bookshelf”.
I’m digressing. Sorry.
Many people would think that making a model is just gluing and painting. That would be all if Alex wasn’t determined to reshape all the pieces, and even make new ones, whenever he feels that the ones that come with the model don’t have enough detail or they are not faithful to the original. And I think “what did we pay for this kit if you are practically making it from scratch??” Anyway, he likes it.
And the truth is that sometimes they come reaaaally really bad shaped…
What is this?? Is it an engine, or a coffee maker? Where do I insert the capsules?
Seriously, Korean people who work at Academy, this is so poor… how can you even sleep at night?
It’s hard to believe this is the same piece after Alex had improved it with some of his magic.
Once you’ve sanded, glued, reshaped and sanded again every piece, you can start painting.
Layers and layers until you have all the shades and effects you wanted. Because, oh yeah, you are making a war helicopter so you want to have traces of sand, rust, dirt and everything. But don’t worry, because you can always buy the latest number of The Weathering Magazine. Ladies (or gentlemen) never let anyone tell you that your magazines about crochet, patchwork, etc. are specific and weird. This is.
And of course, the list of improvements you can make is as big as your sense of accuracy. “Embeded seatbelts shaped in the seats?? What are we? Barbarians? I prefer to sand the plastic seats until I erase any trace of the seatbelt shape and install real nano-seatbelts in case my plastic pilots need them…”
Just to make sure you’ve understood the actual size of it, the seats are narrower than my pinkie.
And what about creating the wires for the headphones of the pilots? How were they supposed to communicate without them? Uh? Luckily for them, Alex thought in every detail.
They even have a fire extinguisher, just in case…
Of course, all the “Remove before flight” labels and the human figures were also Alex’s additions to the original model. It will take me hours to explain all the things he changed, improved or created for this particular model.
Anyway, I can only admire all this hard work and the results are amazing. So, although I’m always teasing him about how freak he is, in the end I’m always happy to make room in our tiny crowded apartment to each one of his creations.
If you want more details, though, you can see a lot more pictures of the process here in the modelers’ forum they have. Text is in Spanish, but images speak from themselves.